Total Page Views for "Talking Transportation"

November 03, 2008

Confessions of a Road Warrior

What idiot said that “getting there is half the fun”?

That’s the thought that went through my mind last week when I did a “day trip” to LA: two door-to-door 10-hour trips just for a three-hour face-to-face meeting with my most important client.

I knew my trip was doomed when I went to pick up my rental car at LAX and there were no cars. Pleading with the dispatcher that I’d been up since 1 am local time and had a crucial meeting I could not be late for, she said “I can give you a mini-van.” Fabulous! If it has an engine and wheels, I’ll take it. Even in LA where people drive their egos, I abandoned my Ferrari persona for a Chevy minivan.

I should have known there was a problem as it was the only van left on the lot, but a road warrior never gives up. Throwing open the door to the van I was met with the unmistakable odor of vomit. The vehicle was clean, mind you. It just reeked.
So, off I drove, windows down and made my meeting on time! When I returned the van five hours later it still reeked of vomit, but now with a nice overtone of cigar.

Another time a few years back I’d booked the last evening flight from JFK to LAX on TWA. I rushed to the airport, arriving just in time to find that the 6 pm flight was delayed due to incoming equipment. A promised 8 pm departure never happened, and the delays kept coming in 30 minute intervals until it was clear we were going to be on a red-eye. Worse yet, after all other flights had left, every bar and restaurant in the terminal closed up.

In its generosity, TWA wheeled out some MRE’s (meals ready to eat) from a back closet and we feasted on stale crackers and government surplus cheese, until one passenger took the initiative and picked up the phone.

A half-hour later (and still hours before departure), a pizza delivery-man arrived with ten pies. “We’re not paying for those,” screamed the TWA supervisor. “We’re not asking you too,” smiled the passenger, who then sold every slice at about $5 apiece. PS: We did eventually take off, arriving at LAX about 3 am.

Then there was the time I arrived late one night at Newark airport from a sad trip to see my dying mother. I had a crucial meeting in central NJ the next morning, so I’d booked the last hotel room within 30 miles at a run-down Howard Johnson’s.

In the dark airport parking lot, I got off the bus at the wrong stop and in a pouring rain (with no coat or umbrella) was soaked by the time I found my car. God was telling me something.

Digging thru my suitcase, I found the only dry clothing I could safely use to dry off … a pair of underwear. And off I drove to Route 287. An hour later I found my Ho Jo’s motel, tired and hungry, ready for a meal of those famous fried clams and at little ice cream. No such luck. The restaurant was closed as were all other eateries within ten miles. That night dinner consisted of Pop Tarts with a side order of humble pie.

No comments: